Chartridge boy, 10, wins 3 swimming medals in Calif.

NEIGHBORS

July 30, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TOM CUSH, 10, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Cush of Chartridge, won a gold medal and two silver medals in swimming competition at the Dwarf Athletic Association of America games this month in Los Angeles.

The soccer team his father coaches won a silver medal at the games, part of the annual conference of the Little People of America (LPA).

Tom's gold medal came in the butterfly races and his silver medals in freestyle and backstroke.

The Cushes joined LPA shortly after Tom was born with achondroplasia, or dwarfism, in Alexandria Hospital in Virginia. A nurse in the delivery room noticed that Tom's head was slightly larger than normal and his limbs shorter than normal.

With no family history of this condition, Tom's dwarfism is believed to have been caused by a genetic mutation, something that can happen in one in 30,000 births.

Other than that, he's "like anybody else his age," says his mother. The Oak Hill Elementary School fifth-grader reads comics -- he says his favorites are Superman, X-man and Spiderman, "all the old ones" -- watches cartoons and loves sports.

His mother says Tom has the respect of his younger brothers, Andy, 8, and Sam, 22 months, especially Andy.

"Andy helps me with stuff I can't do," says Tom. "If I can't reach something, he helps me."

Tom has always loved Severna Park Green Hornets sports. But as his peers have grown bigger and faster, it has become difficult for him to compete.

"As I got older I thought it would be a little too hard," he says.

Though he may miss the Green Hornets, he plays in another league in Baltimore "that's not just for dwarfs, but all different disabled people. And you can do like baseball and basketball, the same sports that you do in Green Hornets."

"I play basketball every year and baseball every year and swimming," Tom says.

He participates every Saturday in the sports rehabilitation program at the Bennett Institute, which is part of the New Children's Hospital of Baltimore.

His favorite subjects in school are science and math, Tom says.

"I like studying electricity and magnets and doing experiments with magnets."

For information about the Little People of America, call 888-LPA-2001.

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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